30+ Juneteenth Words, Quotes, and Phrases

Despite only recently being recognized as a federal holiday, Juneteenth has been around for years, and it’s accumulated a number of customs, traditions, and quotes. Are you looking for the right words to mark your own celebration? Here are just a few Juneteenth words and phrases to commemorate the ongoing fight for Black equality.

Juneteenth Words

Photo showing several Juneteenth words

“Juneteenth” itself is a combination of “June” and “19th,” the day in 1865 when Texas formally declared the end of slavery. The words commonly associated with Juneteenth are impactful and often used in speeches, parades, and other Juneteenth-related festivities.

  • Freedom Day
  • Emancipation Day
  • Perseverance
  • Unity
  • Equality
  • Abolish
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Future
  • Civil rights
  • Liberation
  • Independence
  • Pride
  • Jubilee
  • History
  • Justice 
  • Progress
  • Resilience 
  • Community 
  • Heritage 
  • Abolition 
  • Legacy 
  • Empowerment
  • Remembrance 
  • Cultural pride
  • Activism

Juneteenth Quotes and Phrases

Juneteenth quotes can evoke a number of emotions: joy, peace, sorrow, and even anger. Many powerful figures throughout history have shared words of wisdom about slavery and its abolition. These are just a few of the most meaningful and memorable Juneteenth quotes.

  • “Juneteenth (…) embodies the resilience of Black people. Even in the face of a broken system, we choose to find joy in resistance and celebrate in community.” – Obrian Rosario
  • “Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.'” — Maya Angelou
  • “The 4th of July was never about Black people. Juneteenth is just for us. As Black people, we are told we don’t deserve our own holidays rooted in our own history. Everything is whitewashed. Juneteenth is for us. (…) It’s Black Joy and Black tenacity to survive.” – Tanesha Grant
  • “Today on Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the end of slavery, the day we memorialize those who offered us hope for the future, and the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom.” – Angela Davis
  • “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet.” – Opal Lee
  • “June 19th reminds me that I am the force of power to change this world and to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors to work towards liberation.” – Mariah Cooley
  • “The American education system has taught us as children that Black people have history in pain and survival. They have failed to teach us our history in joy, success, innovations and so much more. Juneteenth is a reclaim on our history that has been stolen.” – Nia White
  • “Juneteenth to me means a lot. (…) It shows that even after the emancipation proclamation was signed in 1863 African Americans still were not liberated. It redefined what liberation meant for the African American community here in the US. It showed that our liberation comes from us.” – Fatimata Cham
  • “Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom.” – Jamelle Bouie
  • “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.” – Coretta Scott King
  • “You must never, ever give out. We must keep the faith because we are one people. We are brothers and sisters. We all live in the same house: the American house.” – John Lewis
  • “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “You can’t separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X
  • “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” – Barack Obama
  • “Every Black person you meet is a miracle. (…) We are valuable because of our humanity and declared valuable because our ancestors declared our worth when they fought for us to live.” – Brittany Packnett
  • “Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” – John Lewis
A ohoto showing a quote from Aretha Franklin.
  • “There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” – Michelle Obama
  • “Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.” – Al Edwards
  • Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.” – Ralph Ellison 
  • “Slavery is theft—theft of a life, theft of work, theft of any property or produce, theft even of the children a slave might have borne.” – Kevin Bales
  • “Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress.” —Michelle Obama”The day we were free — everyone was free. Why not make it a paid holiday? We deserve that… We want a day that is inclusive to everyone.” — Pharrell Williams
  • “We Black folk, our history, and our present being are a mirror of all the manifold experiences of America. What we want, what we represent, what we endure is what America is. If we Black folk perish, America will perish.” — Richard Wright 
  • “We all require and want respect, man or woman, Black or white. It’s our basic human right.” – Aretha Franklin
  • “There’s no other race, to me, that has such a tough history for hundreds and hundreds of years, and only the strong survive, so we were the strongest and the most mentally tough, and I’m really proud to wear this color every single day of my life.”—Serena Williams

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